Tuesday, August 17, 2004

24th out of 720. Not bad. Tried the $10,000 guaranteed $15 tournament on Pacific last night. When I signed up, there were only 600 entries, giving a bit of an overlay, but the typical last second sign-up blitz assured Pacific that they wouldn’t be out of pocket for the tournament. I hadn’t done well in these BIG tournaments at UB, Party, or Empire, so my goal was simply to cash (60th or better) and prepare for the Monty.

First hand was pocket queens in MP. Well, that’s nice. Raise to 4xBB, get a few callers; after all, it IS the first hand. Flop is Axx. Sigh. With multiple callers to a raise, odds are pretty strong that there are some aces out there. When SB bets and gets raised immediately, my queens go nighty-night. Right move because K comes up next.

Second hand… pocket Aces. Well, that’s even nicer. It even helps my table image as a total nut job when I raise this to 5xBB. I get two or three callers to this. Flop is Axx and two hearts. I figure they just think I’m a retard already, so I bet 10xBB. I get one caller. Turn is a brick and I bet 15xBB hoping the last guy will just think I’m raising by formula. He calls and I put him on either a nut flush draw (KQ or KJ, and he doesn’t know the concept of pot odds) or Ax (possible two pair) or a smaller set. The river is a blessed black brick and I bet 20xBB. He calls (!) and mucks to my set. Now, I’ve almost doubled up after only two hands.

Fourth hand… pocket tens. Well, that’s nice. I decide to limp this one now that I’m in early position and give me the chance to muck quietly after a flop with a lot of paint. Sure enough, the flop is AJx, and the tens take a dive. Then, damn those laws of averages, the Crap Fairy showed up for about an hour. With the low blinds, I could play the folding game with an occasional steal. In fact, when I had really bad hands, I would sometimes let the clock run out so they would think I just left the computer. I would pop back in for the blinds, but otherwise coasted to the first break. Card-wise, I seemed to have shot my wad in the first four hands.

By the time we got to the second break, it was down below 100 people, and people tightened up like Ricky Williams filling a specimen cup. Blinds would see maybe one caller, or the big stacks would steal by raising enough to put the shortstacks all-in. I was hovering near the lower third of chips with no real hands to speak of, just playing tight-weak while the chip Darwinism was exacting its toll. I knew I had to double up soon to feel confident about cashing, but the hands just weren’t there. There was an interesting stretch where I folded J9, J9, JT in order. And all three times, they would have won on flops of T87, JJK, and Q98. Un-frickin-believable.

Finally, I got Big Slick UTG and raised to 3xBB. I got two callers and cheered the flop of A85. I put out the same bet, got only one caller. The turn was a 6 or 7, and I immediately pushed all-in. The chip leader paused, and mucked, but I was back in business with middle stack at the table. This freed me from the blind-stealing since the big stacks wouldn’t molest my middle stack, fearing a showdown that would cripple their stacks. It also allowed me to steal more blinds since I had the shortstacks covered 2-1. I tested my theory with pocket sixes. The blinds were shortstacked and the chip leader came over them with a raise from MP that would’ve put them all-in. I re-raised from the button and they folded a tidy little pot to me.

Midway through the third hour, I knew I had cashed, so that hurdle was cleared. The money IIRC was $43.20 for 51-60, $53.60 for 41-50, $64 for 31-40, $75+ for 21-30, so now I decided I wanted to make top 30. Without a bunch of monster hands, I wouldn’t be able to get much higher than that. Strangely, right here, I hit my coldest streak of cards yet. I must have folded thirty hands in a row. Funny thing was, I had a really tight-weak player to my right and he kept folding his SB to me, essentially paying for my orbit. Soon, with blinds at 1K/2K and my stack at a piddly 6K (and everyone else at the table at 12K-40K), I was at the dreaded “all-in on any ace” territory. I sighed as I looked at A7s UTG. I checked the tournament control center and saw 36 people still in and knew that I’d have to double up to make top 30 or be blinded out. I pushed all-in and was bummed to be called by the BB with AQ. Pacific spits out the board cards like a machine gun, 8-6-5-7-6. I look for the straight. Nope. Then I realize that I have two pair and the chips are being slid in front of me. Whoo-hoo!

With 12K, I know I’m safe for a couple of orbits, but I want to build my stack so I can compete for top 10. I steal some blinds with a 6K raise with KQs. I fold J9 again, and see KJJ flop. Shit. I’m getting no playable cards, no suited connectors, no small pocket pairs, nothing. Now I’m blinded back down to 7K and get QJ sooted UTG. Blinds are the onerous 2K/4K and there are only 25 players left, meaning the average stack is around 23K. Since I don’t think I’ll get anything better in the blinds and sure as hell someone is gonna try to steal them, I decide to make my stand. Only one caller with A7 meant I had a fighting chance. Ace on the flop kills that chance and I’m out with $75 in 24th. About three hours work for $60 profit.

Pacific really needs to tweak their interface, especially for all-ins. The cards just stream out, making it impossible to build any suspense from flop to turn to river. The hole cards get flipped at the same picosecond the board cards start spewing out, practically all five at once. Part of the excitement of NLHE is when someone is all-in and each card on the board is flipped and scrutinized to see who has the lead. Y’know the moment when the dealer taps the table twice before dealing and flipping the turn. Then taps twice again before dealing and flipping the river. The most exciting moments in poker. And Pacific effs it up.


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